Saturday, June 09, 2012

Rehabilitation and breeding centre for wildlife in Kinabatangan on the horizon

KINABATANGAN: Sukau assemblyman Datuk Saddi Haji Abdul Rahman disclosed yesterday that a world-class rehabilitation and breeding centre for wildlife on the verge of extinction and unique to Borneo, is currently being set up in an area covering 3,000 acres in a forest reserve.

Saddi said the centre to be located at the Situ Forest Reserve, 20km from Bukit Garam, would take a year to fully develop the programme, which is a collaboration of several bodies led by the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Asahiyama Zoo from Japan, various wildlife rehabilitation bodies and several international non-governmental organisations.

The first of its kind in Malaysia and South-East Asia, the centre will be like a breath of fresh air in wildlife conservation and at the same time, a boon to the State tourism industry.

Speaking to reporters after attending a briefing given by the Wildlife Department, Saddi said he was impressed with the proposal because the proposed centre would be close to several eco-tourism attractions which include the rainforest, the Gomantong cave, the ancient cemeteries, the proboscis monkeys, birds, the orangutan, the crocodile of the Kinabatangan River.

“These tourist attractions would certainly complement the centre and an existing forestry school,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his briefing, Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, Sumatran rhinos and Asian gaurs (seladang) living in the forest need to be saved from extinction.

Ambu said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the National Geographics had documented the possible extinction of the pygmy elephants in the state and this had raised concerns prompting the issue to be dealt with collectively and consistently.

The Taisei Corporation, an environmental planning and administration group in Japan, along with several private corporations, volunteer organisations, the WWF and other international environmental organisations, will bear the cost of setting up the centre.